The Lab serves the entire Guidance, Navigation, and Control (GNC) research group of the Department of Aerospace Engineering.
The scope of the interdisciplinary research performed in the lab includes high-level control objectives such as cooperative team mission planning (task assignment) and multi-vehicle coordination, motion planning (guidance) with regard to optimizing trajectories for dynamical systems, trajectory-following, low-level control objectives focused on the control of single vehicles and/or platforms and also vision-aided single- and multi-vehicle autonomous navigation in uncertain environments. Additional research topics pursued in the lab are advanced flight displays, pilot-vehicle modeling, and active manipulators.
The lab operates an indoor test-bed emulating the complexities and constraints of real-world systems. Supporting hardware for this test-bed includes a motion capture system capable of providing real-time six degree-of-freedom estimates for tracked vehicles such as quadrotors and ground vehicles. This system architecture allows for the addition of vehicles in a short time at low cost since no embedded hardware is installed on the vehicles. This enables us to avoid being overly conservative during flight testing.
A unique seven degree-of-freedom moving platform used to mount a variety of sensor payloads was also built in-house. The platform, which moves freely through one of the rooms, is suspended from the ceiling by six computer-controlled wires. The 7th degree-of-freedom is required to allow all-attitude yaw motions. Two high-precision three-degrees-of-freedom flight tables complement the equipment needed for evaluating inertial and electro-optical sensor performance. The lab also operates many ground and aerial robots.
The lab is also home to a joint Aerospace Engineering and Mechanical Engineering Controls Teaching Laboratory, which operates six identical test benches containing a rotational (Furuta) pendulum driven by a DC-motor and supporting computer software and hardware. The lab setup, designed by the Department of Mechanical Engineering, is a flexible and modular apparatus that allows undergraduate and graduate students from both departments to explore various concepts related to dynamical systems and control theory.
Please visit the Philadelphia Flight Control Laboratory website for more information about the lab, research groups, student projects, and open positions